Category Archives: My Art

When You Wish Upon a Star . . .

wishingstarsMany of you will remember that, during a studio tour last Fall, I fell in love – with glass. It was a grand passion and I went nuts, bought a kiln two weeks later, and jumped in with both feet (not into the kiln), but into the creation of beautiful sparkly things.

The thing about me is that, no matter the medium, my monkey mind starts swinging from idea trees, and I come up with new and unusual “product” ideas. It’s what I do. I think this comes from all my years in marketing and retailing, but who really knows where ideas come from? Not me. Continue reading

Prints Charming . . .

Casita-Studio “Santa Fe Studio with Picture Window” © 2014 Jessica Wesolek

I didn’t quite meet my challenge to create six paintings this week. I only made it to four so far, but so many good things have come of the effort, that I’m not even disappointed about it.

I have gotten my garden room cleaned up and set up as a working watercolor studio.

I have unearthed all the wonderful tubes of paint that have been waiting such a long time for me to come back to them, and I have spent a LOT of time painting.

Because of a puppy dog tummy ache, we got up at 5am yesterday, and I painted for 4 hours before going down to the gallery.

Found out that early morning is a wonderful time to make art – putting it first before anything else but coffee (and dog walking, of course).

I love the studio in the painting above and wish mine was that pristine.

One of the really fun things is incorporating some of the style details that are so unique to Santa Fe, like saltilllo (sal-tee-o) tile floors and vigas (vee-ga) and latillas (la-tee-ya).

The vigas are the large telephone pole-like beams that go through the walls and hold up the ceiling.

Latillas are the smaller sapling logs that cover the ceiling on top of the vigas.

When I have my Santa Fe Retreats, this is the stuff that charms the chile (yes – spelled with an “e”) out of my students because it is so “arty” and fun to sketch. I can still fit a couple people into the September Retreat if anybody else wants to come see for themselves.

Here is a little “reading room” I painted with a Kiva (kee-va) fireplace in it . . .

Casita-Kiva-Fireplace“Casita with Kiva Fireplace” © 2014 Jessica Wesolek

Kiva fireplaces are patterned after horno ovens (orno) which are adobe brick ovens, usually outside, in which the Pueblo people bake bread. They look something like this . . .hornooven

First, you build a fire in the oven in the early morning. When the kindling burns away, you clean out the ashes, put your loaves of bread inside on pieces of stone (so they don’t get sooty) and the retained heat in the adobe bricks bakes the bread. Makes you appreciate our oven’s pre-heat feature, doesn’t it?

I have eaten bread freshly baked in an horno when visiting a friend at one of the local pueblos. It was really delicious and different.

I have never seen a fireplace like this in any kiva (ceremonial room), so who knows how that name came about.

And my fourth painting this week was an outside view . . .

The-Note“The Note” © 2014 Jessica Wesolek

Many exterior patios and porches are flagstone or brick. This time, you see the ends of the vigas sticking out through the adobe wall.

And we also have a chile ristra (ree-stra). Fresh picked chiles are bound together and hung on an outside wall or portal (porch) to dry. The cook then grabs one from the ristra whenever needed.

Blue doors and gates are considered good luck and they are thought to ward off evil.

This morning, I built a web page for my prints, and put them in the Shopping Cart . . .

You can see all four paintings together, and you can purchase the prints.

Thank you so much to those who purchased the first print last time.

It is really fun to share the style and culture of Santa Fe with you – and it’s REALLY fun to be painting again!

Product Photography and a Road Trip . . .

chileearringsAs I mentioned, I used to do a lot of product photography for catalogs, brochures, etc. and I also used to act as art director on photo shoots when I worked in San Francisco.

Sets were elaborate, lighting took hours to get right, and shoots took all day. And that was only if the client was cooperating.

At one point, we specialized in jewelry because it was a “specialty” – really hard to get right – and my partner at that time was a really great jewelry photographer.

HOW things have changed.

I am creating our online Market for the gallery, and I have to make good photos of my jewelry.

I still have my professional studio lighting, tents, umbrellas, etc.

I even have a more modern digital lighting and light tent set-up.

But I’m not using any of it.

Last Saturday, my friend, Betsy, and I went to a few of the studios on the annual Art Tour in our village.

One visit was to see my friend, Sharon. Her new work is awesome and she had already sold seven pieces by lunchtime! Yay!

Our second stop was to visit Penny Truitt, another ceramic artist I really admire.

She does some amazing sculptures for a gallery on Canyon Road, but at her studio, she also had some great little tiles she does for fun, which were also affordable.

I got a set of three I will frame in a shadow box, and another that reminded me of local adobe ruins. I just thought that last one could hang out with me in my greenhouse studio, where I have other interesting ceramic things.

And that was a fortuitous decision, because as I sat there doing some jewelry photography – with ONLY indirect daylight and my iPad – my eyes landed on that last tile and I sat my chile earrings on it.

Wow. I loved that shot (top of the post).

So, I got those other tiles out (glad I haven’t framed them yet). and set some special Jasper bracelets on top of them . . .


bluemattejadeThis was such a perfect “set” for my jewelry!

NOTE: The greatest thing about this Jasper is its matte finish, which feels cool and smooth in a very unusual way. I’ve never felt anything like it, and they are hard to put down. I found a very limited supply of these in Tucson and can’t get any more until maybe next year (I hope!)

Anyway, it is truly incredible that you can now do beautiful photography this way – with just an iPad, some indirect daylight, and some artistic props. It looks just as good as the stuff that used to take us an entire day! If you had told me about this then, I would never have thought it possible. Goes to show you never know what can happen.

Betsy and I have rented a couple of cottages in a garden with duck ponds, in an apple orchard, outside Durango, CO, and we are leaving this morning for 4 days..

Sounds like a dream for art journaling, and we will also be spending time with my friend, Valerie, and her wonderful gallery.

Yes, I will be taking you along.



What Is Your “Real” Art?

whitelilacIt’s been a very strange Spring – outside as well as inside my head.

I know everyone in the country has had weather issues.

Here, it has just been late freezes, but they have managed to reduce the Lilac blossoms to almost none.

I got some white ones, though, and did something I never do – cut a little branch to bring inside because I kew the overnight freeze would do away with the blossom anyway.

I may as well immortalize them in the journal, right?

This is not my “real” art, but it’s close.

All garden work is way behind because of the strange weather, and I am only at the clean-up the hardscape stage . . .

gardem051814At this point, I consider the courtyard a blank canvas – ready for “painting” this year’s garden. I LOVE gardening.

But gardening is not my real art, either, but it comes very close.

There was a wonderful comment left by Carole on the first post of this series. Here is what she said:

A “real artist”, as I understand it, often has a closet-full of work that the world never sees, because for a real artist it’s the process that’s important and not the result or what anyone thinks of it. If it were the reverse, wouldn’t it lead to more frustration? There will always be someone (or many someones) who make art better than we do. So most of us make art because we love it…as a form of venting or as our own expression of the joy of life and the beauty we see. If you are a “real” artist will you enjoy making art any more than you do now? What if enabling others to make it IS your greatest art?”

She makes such excellent points here, that it causes me to examine what it is that I do mean by my “real” art.

I think that most hobby artists (and by that I only mean that your art does not have to float your mortgage etc.) have the freedom to create for themselves, which is great, but the price they pay is usually a day job, so their time to make art is limited.

I have never been a hobby artist.

When I was very young, I made myself a promise that I would not work for other people – I would live by my art no matter what it took. I have kept that promise.

And that meant doing anything commercial I could to make a living – as long as it was about art. So, I have been an illustrator, photographer, graphic designer, and art teacher in all kinds of venues. Other stuff too – like

This resulted in a thought pattern which divided my creative activity into art I did for other people and my “real” art, which I did for me, but ended up selling to other people anyway.

The difference there was that in my real art, somebody didn’t tell me what to create for this or that purpose. There were no deadlines. They bought it *after* it existed.

I did a lot of painting and gallery work early on, and then got so involved with my graphics firm that I was doing no fine art at all. That was when I got into fine art photography as my “fix” because there was no time for anything else.

But, photography, as much as I love it, is not my real art either.

I really do love teaching others the joys of drawing and painting. I know it shows in my workshops that I love what I do. And I get real joy when I have just finished a lesson that I know will “work” for the students. They will “get” it and do it and love it.

But teaching is not my real art either.

I don’t know how to explain this, but there is only one thing I do that keeps me in the moment and I am NOT hearing the siren calls of all the other things i could, should, would, be doing. And that is my real art.

Right now, there are two things – painting and kiln glass – that take me to that place and hold me there.

The thing is, when I “wake up” from this blissful respite, I am in trouble.

All the sirens are going full blast because I haven’t been tending the to-do list.

I want to be very clear here that all my self-indulgent navel-gazing lately is not complaining. People have real troubles in this world and this certainly does not qualify as one.

This is just about examining the parts of a complicated life (a wonderful life) to see if I can find balance. If I can slow anything down, or let go of any parts . . .

So I am not always hurrying.

So I don’t hurt myself with stress (or falling and breaking bones).

So my monkey mind will shut the hell up already.

I would do all this in private if I thought it was just something that goes on around here.

But I never meet anybody anymore whose hair is not blowing in the winds of hurry, scurry, and over-do.

I want more of that quiet soul time I get from my real art.

I want to slow down and smell the roses. Not all of them, but some of them anyway.

I want my life to last longer because I am not zooming through its scenery.

Do you have a “real art”? Think about it. Is there an activity you do that makes your world stand still – at least for a little while?

I know meditation can do that, but that is a suspension of activity and even thought.

I am wondering whether you have an “activity” that you can rest within awhile? If you do, it’s a real art..


I Want to Be An Artist When I Grow Up . . .

yardwork I said that to Mark this morning before he left for the gallery.

He gave me one of “those” looks, but I think he really does know what I mean by that.

I have not been “being an artist” because I have been mostly “being” a business woman and teacher of art. My focus has been on your art, not mine. That’s a weird thing, but it’s true.

During this time of soul searching, I am also searching other people’s blogs, and finding that many of the most widely followed artist’s blogs concentrate on the artist’s own work, and story, and progress and process.

I am not talking about craft and DIY blogs here – they are full of teaching, and they are directed at hobby artists for the most part.

I am talking about the blogs written by practicing artists who are creating and showing and selling their artwork.

That term “practicing” artist is one that I will want to explore sometime soon. It’s a very interesting term when you think about it.

I honestly don’t think that I would be any less interesting of a blogger if I talked about my own story. In fact, statistics show that my tutorial posts get fewer comments than the ones that are about “story”.

There are two things that get said to me all the time.

One is a question: Where do you get your ideas?

The other is a statement: I wish I could follow you around for a day to see how you do what you do.

And maybe that is what this blog should be about.

So, here’s my interesting story for today . . .

Something has happened to my art journaling process.

I have always embraced a couple of ideas about art journaling that play into this change.

My journals are “illustrated” journals based on drawing and watercolor.

I can take as long as it takes to finish a page. I have given myself permission to do that because it’s the only thing in my life these days that is not in a hurry. There is no hurry in my journals, and if I want something perfect, I will take the time to make it perfect.

To that end, I thank my iPad for its help. I ALWAYS shoot a reference photo, even when painting from life, because, by the time I finish the page, the subject will likely be changed or gone altogether – Orchids in the studio for example.

I recently ran into a new brand of watercolor (new to me), and I will share all about that in another post. I fell in love so hard that I went from owning 1 tube, to 33 tubes in one month.

And these watercolors used in the Stillman & Birn Beta and Zeta sketchbooks is something like heaven.

So, what I realized is that I have been creating some of my “real” art in my journals – instead of just preliminary studies.

This creates a big question – how do I sell them?

The originals are not going anywhere because they are in my journal and you would have to tear my arm off to get me to tear a page out.

I am going to have to sell reproductions of these paintings.

That’s ok.

I am a big fan of prints, actually. I think it allows art to be owned by people who can’t afford to own originals, and that’s a good thing.

But, in my opinion, the reproductions can’t be mass produced if they are going to hold their value as art. The artist must produce the reproduction and even sign the prints – the signature should not be printed.

Making a good reproduction is not an easy thing as those of you who have tried it know. You need archival ink and archival paper and you have to get that paper to go through the printer. And there is sizing and trimming and a bunch of other concerns.

But the end result is still a product of the artist’s hands and it’s worth the trouble.

My latest paintings are of strange neighborhoods.

I live in a strange neighborhood to begin with.

And I LOVE houses in art. Not the fancy detailed ones, but the ones that look like a grown-up version of the ones we drew in first grade.

European artists depict houses that have a mystery to them, and I love that. It keeps the houses from being too “cute”. I have been fighting my “cute” gene all my life.

In the ’80s, I was registered with the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) as a Surrealist, which is definitely what I still am for the most part – even though I love painting realistic flowers.

So, painting “strange” neighborhoods is right up my alley.

My true love is narrative art. There is a story in the painting, and I love to figure out what it is. Even in my own paintings, I have to figure out what it is, because I don’t know what’s going on either.

Also, like Rene Magritte, I think titles are an important part of the work. His titles didn’t necessarily make sense, but mine usually do – and give you a clue to the story. The titles just show up at some point while I am creating the painting.

It’s like a voice says: “Here is the title. Figure this one out.”

I am showing you my two latest paintings today. Both were done in watercolor in my Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook, so both will be sold as reproductions and I will share that process with you too, as I go through it.

Both paintings are part of a series called “Strange Neighborhoods”. That’s another thing I often do – paint in series.

The painting at the top of the post is called “Gathering” and your guess is as good as mine what that means. Whatever it means to you is what it means.

This one is called “Mending Fences” . . .

mendingfencesAgain, you can make up your own story.

I think that is the weirdest fence I’ve ever seen anyone put up, and somebody is sending somebody a message. And, it’s not like they won’t be running into each other. But, I’m not sure whats going on exactly.

I have to admit I love this series, and may even try to make those houses in glass one of these days.!